No postering, class talks, in-person voting or candidates’ forum under CEO’s ruling
After the school’s administration announced its decision to cancel classes this Monday and Tuesday and shift the remainder of the semester online on Wednesday due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) is following suit and will move its upcoming general elections completely online.
A new chief electoral officer (CEO) is also in place after the former CEO and bilingual elections officer resigned earlier this week, due to what they described as circulating concerns from UOSU board members and employees over their former work as co-founders of the union.
Maharaj and MacAllister-Caruso finished their work with the union at the end of May 2019 after the current executive committee was elected and put in place. They did not run for executive positions.
“We are saddened to leave our positions just as the campaign period is set to begin next Monday, but we felt it to be the only appropriate measure moving forward to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and to retain the confidence of the board,” Maharaj and MacAllister-Caruso wrote in their resignation letter.
The new CEO of the general elections, Jon Wiseman, wrote in a ruling on Saturday that there will be no postering, class talks, in-person voting, or candidates’ forums.
“As a gesture of good-will, candidates who have submitted posters and banners to the elections office for approval shall have their expenses covered by the UOSU,” Wiseman wrote in his ruling. “Expenses for these posters and banners shall not count towards overall campaign expenses.”
“I believe that a fully online campaign will still allow us to balance student engagement in the electoral process, while recognizing the university’s move towards online classes, as well as social distancing measures recommended by public health officials,” wrote Wiseman. “As student leaders, we must do our part to ensure that the student body at-large take proper measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the university community but there are five positive cases in Ottawa as of Saturday. The campus remains open, including all residences, food services, libraries and “other facilities and services.”
Exams will not be taken in person, with more information to come. Clinical and co-op placements will continue without change unless students are otherwise notified.
All university-related travel by U of O students and staff is prohibited until further notice, while faculty travel is “strongly discouraged.” Additionally, the school says any university event that involves visitors arriving from international destinations should be cancelled.
“There are some things that are bigger than student government elections,” wrote Wiseman. “As we begin this unique and unprecedented campaign period, let us all ensure constructive, issues-based dialogue on improving the student experience remains at the forefront of your campaigns.”
The UOSU general elections voting period runs from March 25-27. The official list of candidates is expected to be published Sunday.